It was heartening to read the various responses to my post about Richard Stallman's lecture in Calcutta, and my dilemma.
I did get the following response from him:
"The FSF works with various political parties -- whoever advocates free software. I don't know what the CPI(M) has done well or badly in WestBengal, but would any of its rivals support free software at all? I would be glad to do something with them too, if they wanted to support us. The point is, however, that they don't. By the way, the CPI(M) was instrumental in blocking bad software patent legislation a year ago, and we hope they will help block an evil US-style copyright law being considered right now."
As a citizen of Calcutta, I am proud and honoured that he is speaking at a public programme in my city. Wouldn't my sharp attack on the politician discolour such an important occasion?
"I cannot deny your right to criticize anyone, but I think that if you attacked him during the event itself, it would tend to hurt the free software movement as much as or more than the CPI(M)."
Could this be done gracefully?
"If you want to criticize the CPI(M) for other things, without appearing specifically to criticize its support for free software, Ithink it would make sense to keep the protest out of the meeting room. But there must be opportunities every week to protest a major political party. Why not choose an event that relates more directly to the things you actually want to protest?"
Well, I can see things in proper perspective now. Any critique delivered during the programme should relate specifically to free software related matters. And that should be by people who know about, and have been engaged in, this subject. From what I've gathered, the CPI(M) has not bothered about issues of software dependence and sustainability. Maybe they have awakened to this now. I shall find out. But that's assuming I can get into the hall. I'm sure there's going to be a stampede of people waiting to get inside!